OBJECTIVES: Functional dyspepsia (FD) is a heterogeneous disorder with different pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the symptom pattern, but little is known about its clinical course. The aims of this study were to study the long-term evolution of symptoms in a clinical FD population and to identify factors associated with outcome.
METHODS: FD patients who previously underwent gastric function testing and filled out a dyspepsia symptom score (DSS) were contacted. At follow-up, patients indicated whether symptoms had worsened, remained unchanged, improved, or disappeared. Anxiety and depression, DSS, chronic fatigue symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) comorbidity, and FD-specific quality of life (QoL) were assessed using mailed questionnaires. Bivariate associations between different patient characteristics and DSS and QoL at follow-up were tested; multiple linear regression was used to identify factors associated with the outcomes, both longitudinally and cross-sectionally.
RESULTS: Data were obtained from 253 patients (84.9% of the eligible and consenting population (n=298) and 53.2% of the original population (n=476)). The mean duration of follow-up was 68±2 months. Disappeared, improved, unchanged, and worsened symptoms were reported by 17.4, 38.3, 30.8, and 13.4% of the patients, respectively. Correlations between dyspepsia symptoms at initial visit and follow-up were small to moderate in magnitude. DSS at initial visit and trait anxiety were longitudinally associated with DSS at follow-up, with a trend found for weight loss; depression, chronic fatigue, and IBS at follow-up were cross-sectionally associated with DSS. Trait anxiety, weight loss, and DSS at initial visit were independently associated with QoL at follow-up; depression as well as DSS and chronic fatigue at follow-up were cross-sectionally associated.
CONCLUSIONS: About half of FD patients reported disappeared or improved symptoms after a mean follow-up of 5 years. Although stability of symptom levels is low to moderate, DSS at initial visit, trait anxiety, and initial weight loss are more strongly associated with outcome than gastric sensorimotor function.